Term of the Week|Cartography

on May 19, 2015 at 10:30AM

Cartography is a both an art and a science which goes back to our earliest recorded history. It is defined as the study and practice of making maps, and builds on the premise that information can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively. Cartography includes the challenging mathematical process of representing a portion of a spherical object, such as the earth, on a flat surface like a piece of paper or a computer screen. It also involves the visual arts, using combinations of shapes, symbols and colors, carefully integrated, to represent and communicate the details of a physical area.

Until recently, these maps were typically 2-D images that gave fairly limited information in comparison to today’s digital maps, which can be layered with seemingly infinite amounts of data. Data creation is aided by aerial photography, satellite images, and remote sensing, which provide efficient, precise methods for mapping physical features such as coastlines, roads, buildings, and topography. Modern cartographic tools have been used to create a much more precise map of the entire world than we’ve ever been able to produce before.

Cartography can be broken down into two categories: general and thematic. General cartography involves maps that are intended for a general audience and contain a variety of features. Thematic cartography creates maps intended for specific purposes with specific information, often used to show patterns or trends. This category has experienced a boom as the volume of geographic data has multiplied and thematic cartography has become increasingly useful and necessary to interpret spatial, cultural, and social data.

Term of the Week | GIS

on May 12, 2015 at 10:45AM

GIS stands for “Geographic Information System,” a specialized software that works with geographic data, allowing computer-generated maps to be created, edited, displayed and analyzed.  Maponics provides geographic data that the average person probably doesn’t appreciate because they might not even realize they are utilizing it. Location information is built in to the core of that data, which is built using GIS software.

GIS tools are used to create interactive queries, analyze spatial information, edit data in maps, and present the results of all of these options. This method of data mapping is vital to community planning and public agencies, who need to plan for development of everything from schools and emergency services dispatching, to road and utility maintenance. GIS tools are also essential to daily life in today’s society of smart phones, both for the consumer and the business owner.

GIS was first developed in Canada in the 1960s and used as a tool to analyze and manage land inventory. Since then it has grown exponentially, being used across a wide spectrum of map data, planning, and everyday life. GIS allows users to relate information from different sources, and as a result, an incredible variety of real-world and projected past or future data can be analyzed, interpreted, and represented. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Likewise, a well-crafted map, created using a GIS system, can visually present a lot of complex data in a very straightforward way.